The State of Oklahoma and the J.M. Davis Foundation, Inc. have reached a settlement agreement in the breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in 2008 against the state, acting through the J.M. Davis Memorial Commission.
Under the terms of the agreement approved Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 by Rogers County District Court, the State of Oklahoma affirmed its obligation under the original Lease Agreement to continue its responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the extensive J.M. Davis Collection of arms and historical artifacts at the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum located in Claremore.
In addition, the J.M. Davis Foundation, Inc. agreed to sell a modest portion of the Davis Collection to provide funding for the preservation and conservation work on artifacts remaining in the collection.
Historical enthusiasts will continue to be able to view and enjoy the Collection during museum business hours with no admission charge, as required under the original agreement.
“Foundation members and Trustee of the collection believe the agreed settlement fulfills the goals of Mr. Davis when he first signed the lease with the State, as original chair of the foundation,” said Gail Hefner, chairperson, J.M. Davis Foundation.
Hefner noted that the litigation was “never about dismantling Davis’ collection,” but was about its maintenance, upkeep and preservation.
“The foundation’s role has always been and will continue to be, to preserve the Davis Collection and to ensure proper conservation efforts are in place for its protection,” she said. “We’re thankful to the commissioners for their willingness to work tirelessly with the foundation to reach an agreement, and we look forward to our continued work in efforts to preserve the Davis Collection.
“Of course, despite these times of ‘budget shortfalls,’ the real burden remains on the state legislature to adequately fund the museum and the commission to fulfill the obligation the State made to Mr. Davis in 1967 to maintain, display and upkeep his collection,” she added.
J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum Commissioner, Dr. Keith Ballard, on behalf of the entire Commission expressed his satisfaction that the lawsuit between the Commission and the J.M. Davis Foundation has been resolved. “The Commission is pleased that Judge Steidley has signed an agreement resolving the lawsuit between the J.M. Davis Foundation and Commission.” Ballard expressed his appreciation to the Foundation for the settlement and looks forward to an excellent working relationship between the Commission and the Foundation.
“The commission believes that both the foundation and the commission are critical to the future success of the museum and in carrying out the wishes of J.M. Davis for the preservation and display of his lifetime collection,” she said.
Dr. Ballard also expressed the Commission’s gratitude to Rogers County Judge Sheila Condren for her work in mediating and assisting in a settlement, and to the J.M. Davis Foundation trustees for their willingness to discuss differences and reach an agreement.
“The J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum is of critical importance to Claremore and the State of Oklahoma,” Dr. Ballard said. “J.M. Davis worked tirelessly to preserve history in amassing the largest privately held arms collection in the United State, if not the world. This agreement will ultimately enhance the Collection for the viewing pleasure of multitudes of people who visit the museum.”
John Monroe Davis accumulated thousands of firearms and other historical artifacts over a lifetime of collecting. His collection was originally on display in the Mason Hotel in downtown Claremore.
In 1967, he transferred the Collection to the J.M. Davis Foundation, Inc. a charitable foundation recognized as a 501(c)(3) entity.
The J.M. Davis Foundation promptly leased the Davis Collection to the State of Oklahoma acting through the J.M. Davis Memorial Commission. The lease is for 99 years, and requires the commission to maintain and display the Davis Collection now at 330 North J.M. Davis Blvd. in Claremore.
The J.M. Davis Memorial Commission operates the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in downtown Claremore on historical Route 66.
It is a State of Oklahoma agency, relying largely on appropriations from the Oklahoma legislature. The Museum receives 30,000 visitors annually, from all parts of the country and the world. Visitors are awed by the scope of guns and others artifacts on display.
The Davis Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed. For more information, visit: thegunmuseum.com.